On the Definition and Desirability of Autonomous User Agents in CSCW
This chapter is principally concerned with user agents as they might appear to users of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) systems: that is, with interface agents rather than software agents. I gives examples to show the difficulty of establishing a clear perspective on interface agents from the user-centred point of view. This difficulty is related to the differing conceptions of agents held within computer sciences and social sciences, and it is argued that this makes user agents a poor starting point for the design of CSCW systems. As an alternative, I suggest that CSCW design should start from the task domains, stages and functions of group work, and that the role of agents should then be situated within this framework. I sketch some initial steps towards developing this approach.
KeywordsBoundary Object Software Agent User Agent Computer Support Cooperative Work Interface Agent
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